British newspaper “The Guardian” has issued an article on the first European Games to be host in Baku headlined “Inaugural European Games in Baku will silence doubters, says Simon Clegg”.
The article says: The Baku 2015 chief operating officer, Simon Clegg, believes the inaugural European Games in June will silence the skeptics who have questioned the addition of the event to the continental sporting calendar.
News at the weekend that this year’s European judo championships will be incorporated into the event means 12 of the 16 Olympic sports on the programme will carry qualification opportunities for Rio.
And despite an initial struggle to convince athletes to commit, Clegg is convinced the move is further proof the two-week competition in Azerbaijan will grow to become a quadrennial event of global significance.
Clegg, a former chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said: “I think there was a degree of skepticism out there and we have addressed those skeptics by raising what is now a universal enthusiasm for this event across all the 50 European national Olympic committees.
“If there are a small number of skeptics still remaining I think they will be overcome when they see the scale of this event and what will be delivered in Baku. I have no doubt that the European Games has got an exciting future ahead of it.”
The move to stage the European judo championships in Baku after Glasgow was stripped of the hosting rights earlier this month could signal the way forward for future editions of the European Games, according to the EOC president, Pat Hickey.
Hickey confirmed the organization is already working on convincing a number of other governing bodies to incorporate their respective sports’ continental championships into the second Games in 2019.
Hickey said: “The EOC has always intended for European championships to become part of the European Games and this agreement indicates that our dream is coming true, even earlier than we had anticipated.
“I am sure other sports will follow suit at future editions of the European Games and that the event will become one of the main qualification routes to the Olympic Games.”